Wednesday, November 12, 2008

GOP History: 100 Years of Crooks, Liars and Failures

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

In a bit over 100 yeas, the GOP loosed upon an unsuspecting nation the likes of Calvin Coolidge, Warren Harding, Herbert Hoover, Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bush Sr., and Bush Jr. Coolidge said little and did less. Harding died in the middle of a scandal --the Tea Pot Dome Scandal.
The exact cause of Harding's death was never learned because Mrs. Harding refused to allow an autopsy. She also declined the casting of a death mask. And the body was embalmed immediately, before it ever left the hotel. All this led to rumors that Mrs. Harding had poisoned the President while they were alone together shortly before his death, perhaps with the help or knowledge of Dr. Sawyer.

In 1924 eyebrows once again were raised. Dr. Charles Sawyer died suddenly--and his death was strikingly similar to that of President Harding--while Mrs. Harding was visiting the Sawyer home. Had she slipped something into Sawyer's drink, too, perhaps to ensure his silence? Mrs. Harding herself died in November, 1924, before the ugly rumors of her role in the President's death ever reached print. In 1930 Gaston Means, an unscrupulous detective and convicted swindler, published The Strange Death of President Harding, in which he claimed he had been hired by Mrs. Harding to serve as her personal investigator. One of his most important tasks was to follow Harding's longtime mistress Nan Britton, who had borne the President's only child, out of wedlock.The widely read book broadly hinted that Mrs. Harding, seeking revenge for this affair and for Harding's many other infidelities during their marriage, had poisoned her husband.

Means also suggested that Mrs. Harding had another motive, a more compassionate one: to spare the President the disgrace of the political scandals about to be disclosed. "My love for Warren has turned to hate," she supposedly told Means. "The President deserves to die. He is not fit to live . . . and he knows it." Means claimed that after the President's death Mrs. Harding confided to him, "Warren Harding died in honor. . . . Had he lived 24 hours longer he might have been impeached. . . . I have not betrayed my country or the party. . . . They are saved . . . I have no regrets. I have fulfilled my destiny."

--Was President Warren G. Harding Murdered Also see: [Tea Pot Dome Scandal]
Since 1900, the GOP has given us failure, idiocy, crookery, wars and industrial scale graft. Only death would distance Warren Harding from the Tea Pot Dome Scandal and, as he called them, his 'God damn friends'. And he was probably as right out his 'God damn friends' as they surely were of him.

But nothing has 'distanced' the name Herbert from the word 'depression' --the economic kind. Hoover was the McCain of his era. Defending the very policies that caused the crash of '29, Hoover said of the victims: "let the poor sell oranges from a pushcart'.
The Republican Great Depression began in 1929, not 1932, and it was the direct result of 9 years of unrelenting trickle-down economics delivered under three Republican Presidents (Harding, Coolidge and Hoover) and their treasury Secretary, the anti-tax, anti-regulation corporate titan, Andrew Mellon.

As I write in the introduction of my new book, Yeah, Right: "This Economy Is Strong and Other Tall Tales:
Hoover came to the presidency in March 1929 after a campaign in which he insisted that a "continuation of the policies of the Republican party is fundamentally necessary to the future advancement of this progress and to the further building up of this prosperity."

When the market crashed in October 1929, the true cost of the Republicans' get-rich-today-and-don't-worry-about-tomorrow policies became all too apparent. Years of corporate deregulation, Wall Street manipulation, rampant speculation, cuts in taxation for the wealthy, and easy-credit expansion for consumers had fueled an unsustainable bubble of artificial wealth that popped with devastating effect.

But Hoover refused to acknowledge the collapse. The "fundamental business of the country," he insisted, was "on a sound and prosperous basis."
Compare those pre- and post- crash Hoover statements to these pre- and post-crash McCain statements:

He should be judged very, very well as far as the economy is concerned. We're in a long sustained period of economic growth.

- John McCain on George W. Bush, March 5, 2007

I still believe the fundamentals of our economy are strong.

- August 2008

Based on that record, there are few people in America who could more rightly claim to be the heir of Herbert Hoover than John McCain (if you're thinking Bush, you're close, but he's actually Calvin Coolidge's heir).

--Jim Oleske, Memo to McCain: Hoover was a REPUBLICAN, Daily Kos
Americans may be forgiven their often overt nostalgia for World War II. It was the only time in the twentieth century that American society was, in any way, egalitarian. By the time Ronald Reagan assumed the White House, the GOP had unfairly demonized Jimmy Carter1 and had begun to roll back all the gains. Ronald Reagan seemed determine to return the US to a pre-1929 state.

The trail thus blazed, Reagan --by way of 'Reaganomics' --would effect a great roll back to earlier Twentieth Century economics in which only the very, very rich benefited. Reagan succeeded. Since 1980, the gulf between rich and poor has created two Americas --those who have very, very little and those who have almost everything. The GOP 'base' of just one percent of the total population idolize Reagan for having brought this about. The rest of the GOP idolize Reagan because they have no clue! Ergo: the GOP consists of two types: the rich and the stupid!

Those who have very little amount to some 95 percent of the entire population. Those who almost have it all amount to about one percent of the nation, yet own more than the other 95 percent combined. Hoover, Harding, Nixon, Coolidge must be beaming up from hell.

Clinton was reviled because he was not a part of the GOP plan to exploit America's riches for the very, very few. Every GOP charge against Clinton was disingenuous. The GOP didn't really care about the President's sex life. Not even the GOP could be stupid enough to equate oral sex with arming an avowed enemy of the United States, a crime that Reagan, in fact, perpetrated and lied about. The GOP, rather, could not forgive Clinton his success which, in turn, reduced the GOP to framing Clinton for trivial offenses. It's all the GOP had.

Clinton dared to protest his innocence of an act that was not even a crime. In pursuit of a dubious case, Kenneth Starr exceeded his charge, attempting to 'pin' a crime on Clinton that Clinton could not have committed for another three days. Starr was either 'psychic' or 'crooked'. Until this kind of 'psychic' phenomena are proven to exist, I will continue to believe that Starr was just crooked, that the subpoena was a set-up! Starr's investigation turned up nothing and nothing was left Starr but a crass entrapment for which he should have been disbarred.

Clinton was accused of lying to Starr's legalized 'witch hunt', the federal grand jury convened for the purpose of finding something that could be 'pinned on the President'. This panel, under Starr's direction, began its investigation of 'perjury' fully three days before it could have occurred.

Over the course of four years, Kenneth Starr's investigation of 'Whitewater' cost American taxpayers about $40 million dollars. The taxpayers got absolutely nothing for the utter waste of their monies. By Starr's own admission, his investigation had already found absolutely nothing in Whitewater that he could pin on Clinton.

"Trooper-gate" was a hoax! David Brock's story in Richard Mellon Scaife's 'American Spectator' consisted of allegations by Arkansas state troopers Larry Patterson and Roger Perry. To keep the heat on, Scaife tried and failed to buy witnesses against Clinton using laundered money. Original stories referred to 'Paula' whom we later learned was Paula Jones who found the eager market for lies about Democrats.

David Brock branded the exposé a case of "bad journalism" and called the troopers 'greedy'. He said they had 'slimy motives.' The words 'slimy' and 'GOP' in the same sentence are redundant.
The amount of conspiracist material attacking Clinton before and during the impeachment hearings was staggering. There are few reasons to think the attacks will cease now that the impeachment crisis is over. The small but vocal minority that originally supported the Starr investigation was nurtured by the conspiracist stories circulating about Clinton.

Much of the media coverage of Clinton from 1997 until 1999 focused on scandal and impeachment rather than ideological political issues or electoral politics. This was true not only in alternative right-wing media, but also in mainstream corporate media. Reporter Gene Lyons is especially critical of The New York Times (and to a lesser degree the Washington Post) for devoting so much coverage to the alleged “Whitewater Scandal” over a collapsed land deal, for which no evidence implicating the Clintons in criminal acts has ever been substantiated.

Lyons argues that much of the scandal coverage in the mainstream media “rests on ‘facts’ that are somewhere between highly dubious and demonstrably false,” and he calls it “journalistic malpractice” resulting from a coordinated right-wing “dirty tricks” campaign. In addition to corporate newspaper and magazine coverage attacking Clinton, there were books, newsletters, fax reports, videotapes, audiotapes, direct mail pieces, Internet sites, and more that spewed out from tiny—sometimes one-person—operations to international media conglomerates.

The most alarmist attacks on Clinton originated in right-wing alternative media, then spread throughout right-wing information networks, finally appearing in mainstream outlets. This troubling dynamic was described in a 1995 White House memo “Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce.” The memo was widely
derided in the corporate media, but it is essentially accurate.

--Chip Berlet, Clinton, Conspiracism, and the Continuing Culture War
Scaife's office building was back in the news but a bit later when the body of liberal activist, Steve Kangas, was found dead in a bathroom stall. Kangas' death was ruled a 'suicide' --the first case in history in which the deceased managed to shoot himself --reportedly --twice in the head.

Starr became a pornographer when he was left with nothing to send up to Congress but the pornographic "Starr Report" shot through with prurient minutiae having less to do with substantive charges than with the appearance of Lewinsky's breasts and the shape of ejaculate on her dress.

Normal folk think it absurd to charge a man for perjury or obstruction of justice for merely protesting his innocence --a basic and guaranteed right. Bush tried to get around the principle by merely 'deeming' one a 'terrorist', a neat little trick that Kenneth Starr was unfortunate enough not to have thought of earlier. During the Clinton administration, the GOP had not yet discovered how easily one is deprived of every right guaranteed in the Constitution. Only one word was necessary: 'terrorist'. The GOP might have labeled Clinton but were, instead, obsessed with sex, primarily the sex that was begrudged Clinton. Certainly, in Clinton's case, absurdity was compounded. Clinton was accused of a 'cover up'. But of what?! Getting a blow job is not a crime and the 'acts' for which Clinton would be charged would not occur until at least three days later. Starr was psychic!

In the middle ages, accused witches were subjected to a trial by water. Those lucky enough to 'float' were condemned as witches and grimly executed. Those drowning were considered to be innocent but --unfortunately --dead! The US practice of 'water boarding' throughout its CIA run gulag is the modern equivalent.

The GOP embraced the 'trial by water' and would base American jurisprudence upon the model. GOP justice is Medieval justice. Under Bush, the rule of law would lose all meaning. Bush would call the Constitution a 'goddamned piece of paper'. He would subject 'suspected terrorists' to the modern equivalent of the 'water trial'. The innocent and guilty alike are dead. And so --too --the rule of law.

The 'Watergate' case against Richard Nixon differed substantially from the spurious, purple rhetorical charges leveled against Clinton. Nixon was charged with real crimes -- 'obstruction of justice and perjury' with respect to actual crimes --not set ups or 'sexual' gotachas'! Nixon was accused of using the IRS as a means by which he might retaliate against political enemies. His gang of 'plumbers', tasked with plugging up leaks in the government, were paid by way of elaborate money laundering schemes --all illegal.

Nixons's crimes were real crimes. The Articles of Impeachment against Nixon should be read and compared with the Articles of Impeachment against Clinton. The charges against Clinton are rhetorical fluff, insubstantial claptrap, pornographic and purple prose. The charges against Nixon are, rather, descriptions of real crimes, possibly treason.
The means used to implement this course of conduct or plan included one or more of the following:

  1. making false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States;

  2. withholding relevant and material evidence or information from lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States;

  3. approving, condoning, acquiescing in, and counseling witnesses with respect to the giving of false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States and false or misleading testimony in duly instituted judicial and congressional proceedings;

  4. interfering or endeavouring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force, and Congressional Committees;

  5. approving, condoning, and acquiescing in, the surreptitious payment of substantial sums of money for the purpose of obtaining the silence or influencing the testimony of witnesses, potential witnesses or individuals who participated in such unlawful entry and other illegal activities;

  6. endeavouring to misuse the Central Intelligence Agency, an agency of the United States;
  7. disseminating information received from officers of the Department of Justice of the United States to subjects of investigations conducted by lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States, for the purpose of aiding and assisting such subjects in their attempts to avoid criminal liability;

  8. making or causing to be made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States into believing that a thorough and complete investigation had been conducted with respect to allegations of misconduct on the part of personnel of the executive branch of the United States and personnel of the Committee for the Re-election of the President, and that there was no involvement of such personnel in such misconduct: or

  9. endeavouring to cause prospective defendants, and individuals duly tried and convicted, to expect favoured treatment and consideration in return for their silence or false testimony, or rewarding individuals for their silence or false testimony.
In all of this, Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

--Articles of Impeachment against Richard M. Nixon, Republican
Two of most troubling aspects of recent Republican history are the crooked nature of the Reagan Administration and the "election" of George W. Bush. Among hundreds of 'black marks' against Reagan, the words of Iran/Contra Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh are the most damning.
The Iran/contra investigation will not end the kind of abuse of power that it addressed any more than the Watergate investigation did. The criminality in both affairs did not arise primarily out of ordinary venality or greed, although some of those charged were driven by both. Instead, the crimes committed in Iran/contra were motivated by the desire of persons in high office to pursue controversial policies and goals even when the pursuit of those policies and goals was inhibited or restricted by executive orders, statutes or the constitutional system of checks and balances.

The tone in Iran/contra was set by President Reagan. He directed that the contras be supported, despite a ban on contra aid imposed on him by Congress. And he was willing to trade arms to Iran for the release of Americans held hostage in the Middle East, even if doing so was contrary to the nation's stated policy and possibly in violation of the law.

The lesson of Iran/contra is that if our system of government is to function properly, the branches of government must deal with one another honestly and cooperatively. When disputes arise between the Executive and Legislative branches, as they surely will, the laws that emerge from such disputes must be obeyed. When a President, even with good motive and intent, chooses to skirt the laws or to circumvent them, it is incumbent upon his subordinates to resist, not join in. Their oath and fealty are to the Constitution and the rule of law, not to the man temporarily occupying the Oval Office. Congress has the duty and the power under our system of checks and balances to ensure that the President and his Cabinet officers are faithful to their oaths.

Reagan armed Iran, an avowed enemy of the United States. Lest it be protested that we were not engaged in a declared war with Iran, I must point out that, likewise, our wars with the Taliban and against the people of Iraq were not and remain undeclared. Nevertheless, members of the Bush administration were quick to tar critics with the word 'treason' when, in fact, it is the very worst 'president' in American history whose loyalties must be questioned within the context of a full century of GOP incompetence and outright betrayal of the nation, its people and its Constitution.

The following video supports my contention that Bill 0'Reilly is a crook, a liar, a miserable worm, a waste of human DNA. But because the GOP has apparently made it party policy to be everything that defines Bill 0'Reilly, the 'right' will watch this video and cheer the lying idiot. Good folk, whom I define as being those people who still believe that some things can be proven true and that it is important to do so, will watch this video and be confirmed in their own beliefs.

Why is all that important? I give you the words of Jacob Bronouski and Bertolt Brecht.
Behave in such a way that what is true may be verified to be so.

--Jacob Bronouski, Science and Human Values

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